As we finalize another successful and impactful year, I am reminded of some inspiring words. You will find them in our year-end impact report and you will find them throughout the year as we describe reality for many residents in the community we serve. “Imagine waking up and having to choose between food for your pet or food for yourself when you make your way to the grocery store in the morning.”
The work we do in the East St. Louis metro area reaches far beyond rescuing animals. We are embracing a community that lacks resources for both humans and animals alike and doing our best to remove the barriers to keep pets with their people. The people that love and need them.
The close of 2017 was cold. Our community work kicked into high gear as the frigid temperatures moved in. This is what truly sets us apart from others. Volunteers are in the area regularly providing resources to families to keep pets safe, healthy and happy.
Working with community members is my personal happy place, hearing their passionate stories of how they came to obtain their pet and their anecdotes about them. You see, pets are an important part of our social emotional health and well-being. When a community is faced with poverty, life can become bleak. When people talk about their pets, they light up and an internal happiness radiates throughout their body.
Starting out, Gateway Pet Guardians was a rescue organization. Picking up strays and trying to end homelessness for animals through our never-ending rescue efforts. We quickly realized that wasn’t the answer. We can’t rescue our way out of animal homelessness. In October 2012, we started proactive measures and our impact catapulted!
Now, thanks to grant funding and our spay/neuter partners, BARC and Carol House Quick Fix Clinic (and many others), we offer residents FREE sterilizations. Veterinary partners, Hillside Animal Hospital and Four Paws Animal Hospital extend discounts to pet owners for emergency care and if money is not available, our East Side Pet Crisis Fund subsidizes the cost for life-saving procedures. Twice a year, our wellness clinics provide critical vaccines to keep pets healthy. And with the help of Bi-State Pet Food Pantry and Papin Support Facility, approved pet owners are given food monthly for their beloved family members. All of these programs were 100% volunteer run in 2017!
Because of these programs, the landscape of the community has COMPLETELY changed. Packs of owned dogs, packs of feral dogs, neglect cases are just not seen anymore – or at least not nearly as often. This is not trackable data though. What is trackable is the impact we have seen on a county level. East St. Louis city is within St. Clair County. Therefore, animal issues, pick ups, etc are all funneled through St. Clair County Animal Services. In 2011, Animal Services took in almost 10,000 animals county-wide, with approximately 1/4 of them coming from our service area.
Because of our efforts and the efforts of MANY other organizations, intake in 2017 was less than 2500! THAT. IS. INCREDIBLE. When intake is down, shelter death also decreases. And that is why we all made the initial decision to volunteer, foster and give monetarily… to give a voice to the voiceless and save lives.
I share all of this because our impact in the East St. Louis metro area reaches well beyond the streets we drive and the residents we build relationships with. And, what we are doing is working. It’s changing lives, human and animal. It’s building a stronger community and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us! It is already off to a LIFE-CHANGING start!
Please enjoy our 2017 Impact Report to see the real number of lives we have impacted through our rescue and community efforts!
To support our continued efforts to end animal homelessness in our community, please consider donating! Each dollar impacts our life-saving work! YOU are the reason we can save and and enrich lives!
Gateway Pet Guardians